As Liberals and Conservatives continue to attack and target each others' beliefs regarding gun control, I've paused and listened to the debate to try and determine the correct tension between an individual's right to bear arms and the need for public safety.
Before jumping into the legal and political analysis behind the "war for guns" or the "war against guns," it is necessary to establish a few ground rules.
First, this debate is about America and America only. The United States cannot and never will mirror the peaceful existence of many Western European nations. America is too big, too diverse, and holds too dear the value of protecting individual rights born from a brutal and bloody revolution. Americans have fought many wars, even domestic wars, and the reality is that our nation lives on because we had the weaponry and determination to defend it against aggressors. Guns aren't always bad.
Next, although the axiom "guns don't kill people; people kill people" is correct in its basic logic, there is still room for a common sense debate. As Americans we owe it to ourselves, our children, and future generations to voice our differences and respect the opinions of others. The political stalemate fueled by 24 hour news networks threatens our very form of government and our unity as a nation. Look past the "talking heads" who struggle to fill air time with mindless and volatile rhetoric and decide and declare your opinion about what the 2nd Amendment protects. Everyone should voice his or her opinion. It is too important to remain a quiet bystander.
Third, most people who own and love guns aren't crazy. Some people who own and love guns are crazy, just like some people who love trees and whales are crazy. Focus on the middle 80% of society; not the fringe 10% on either side of the political spectrum. Many educated and honorable citizens find great pleasure in hunting, target shooting, and the mechanical beauty of a well-crafted weapon. They live in every part of our nation. Many serve in our nation's military, police forces, and countless civic jobs throughout our great democracy. Don't demonize good people.
Fourth, no one will take our guns. We live in a democracy. Only our elected leaders, with the approval of the voting citizens of our nation, can take away the guns. This will not happen and forming an opinion based upon fear and paranoia will not lead to a productive debate that could save future lives. There is no evidence in American history of the government conspiring to disarm the public. Regulations may limit, but will never eliminate your right to bear arms.
Next week we will tackle the legal and political analysis behind the gun control debate.